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Umbilical Cord Care

Learn how to care for your newborn's umbilical-cord area until it heals and falls off.

Don't be afraid to clean your baby's umbilical cord: the quicker the base dries, the sooner the cord will fall off. Be sure that you have washed your hands before handling the cord. If the umbilical cord becomes soiled with urine or faeces, you should clean the area when you change your baby’s nappy. To clean the cord safely, take a cotton pad, ball or bud and clean around the base of the cord with clean water.

Remember to avoid covering the cord with the nappy, because the cord area should be kept dry and clean at all times. If the nappy is too high, fold it down on your baby before securing. The cord area should heal in about 7 to 10 days.

Warning Signs

Call your baby’s doctor if you notice that the umbilical cord stump:

  • is soft
  • has a strong odour
  • is streaked with red around the navel, or is discharging fluid (It’s normal for a few drops of blood to appear when the stump separates.)
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